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Cogdill Builders Guide to Building Custom Homes

Common Questions and Answers:


What is the difference between a Portfolio home and a Fully Custom Home?

Portfolio homes are custom home designs developed by Cogdill Builders that have proven to be our most popular.  Spacious, efficient, and well-designed, these homes have been chosen repeatedly by our clients.  Need a home office space, more storage, a larger laundry, or a different bathroom configuration?  Our in-house design staff will gladly make these and other custom changes for you, ensuring that your home will be tailored to your homesite and your lifestyle. Please feel free to visit our portfolio and see which homes are right for you.

Fully Custom Homes are designed from scratch - typically starting life as a few magazine clippings, a couple of brochures, several random design ideas or some notes and sketches on the proverbial cocktail napkin.  At Cogdill, our in-house design staff works with your ideas and brings them to life as a comprehensive set of plans and specifications. Although it may take a few review sessions to bring your ideas into focus, this design phase of the custom home building process ensures your home is the home of your dreams.

Can You Explain the Custom Home Building Process?

The Custom Home Building Process is the method used to turn your ideas into the home of your dreams.  This dream building process can be broken down into 2 steps:

The Design Phase

  1. Meet with our in-house design team to discuss your needs

During this initial meeting, we will review all aspects of your new home including your design ideas, budget, design criteria, and homesite.  Whether you have chosen a portfolio home to modify or prefer a fully custom home built from scratch, our in-house design staff will work with you to ensure that your ideas make it into your dream home.  You will also be given a complimentary copy of our book The American Dream/The American Nightmare to help further your understanding of the home building process. 

  1. Review preliminary plans with our in-house design team.  Repeat as necessary.

During the design process, you will often find that all of your ideas do not work out exactly the way you wanted.  Whether it is a case of your home not fitting on your homesite or your home being overbudget, home designing is often a multi-step process.  Typically, clients will meet with us two, three or more times to make sure their home includes everything they are looking for at a price that fits their budget.

  1. Finalize your design, sign your contract, and pick your colors.

Once you have settled on the final design of your home and your budget is established, we sign a contract with you and have you meet with our interior professionals to pick colors and finishes for your home.  Colors for brick, stucco, shingles, wall paint, and all the little touches that make your house a home are selected so that every facet of your home is finalized and we are ready to begin construction. 

The Building Phase

  1. Building Department & Governmental Agency Permitting.

Now that we know exactly what we want to build, we are ready to begin construction. Plans and specifications are submitted as a permitting package for your new home to the building department and other government agencies for approval.  Government agency response time for your home's permit could vary anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks; however, every city and county is different and has varying permitting response times.

  1. Building the building.

With approvals from the city in hand, we are ready to start moving dirt and putting up walls.  During the construction phase, we will keep you informed of our progress through periodic phone calls by your sales agent as well as meeting with you at certain points in your home’s construction:  

Pre-foundation meeting:
This is usually an optional meeting where the homeowner is needed  only if unusual site conditions exist such as: deciding which trees need to be saved or removed, where to place a driveway through a wooded area, or other such unusual conditions.  Typically, most of these issues were resolved in the design phase when we not only reviewed your home design, but also your homesite   However, sometimes issues do arise so this meeting will need to be penciled into your planner.   

Pre-Drywall inspection :
This is a necessary meeting where one of your design/building team meets with you at your home to walk through and review your home and make sure your home is being built according to your plans and specifications.  By looking at your home before the insulation and drywall are installed, we ensure your home is the way you want it and allow you to make minor last minute changes if you so desire.

Final Walk-thru Inspection :
Like the previous inspection, this meeting is also necessary and will be conducted with one of your design/building team <link to About Us>.  Done when the home is completed, this final walk thru inspection allows you to thoroughly inspect your home room by room and note anything that needs correcting before you move in.  During this walk thru, everything will be working (plumbing, A/C, electrical, appliances) so that every system in your home can be checked and proven to be in working order.  This inspection usually takes a minimum of 2 hours, but is definitely time well spent.  When the walk thru is over, we will confirm your closing and move-in date and complete items that need correcting in a timely manner. 

  1. Closing/Move-In: 

The time you have been waiting for is finally here!  Your home is complete, the local building department has completed its final inspection and you are ready to go to closing.  At the closing, you will sign your closing papers, be handed the keys to your home, and you are ready to move into your dream home

What do I need to look for in a homesite?

To fully answer this question, you need to first ask yourself:

Which area of town do I want to live in?
Your home needs to be in an area of town that is a comfortable distance from work, schools, church, and shopping.  Also, make sure the area contains leisure time activities that will interest you such as beaches or public parks.
Do I want to live in a subdivision?
Paved roads, cable TV, and streets that are professionally designed not to flood with rainwater are a few of the advantages of living in a subdivision instead of a homesite in the country.  Along with these benefits, other concerns such as traffic congestion and how many homes your neighborhood will eventually have should also be considered. 
Do I want to live on my own land?
To some, there is no better feeling than living on their own land away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday.  But along with this freedom comes the sacrifice of certain amenities such as paved roads and easy access to public utilities (city water, sewer, cable TV just to name a few).  Home building costs are also more expensive than in town homes because the workers and materials have to travel farther to get to your home.  And also there may be other site improvements such as bad soil or the need to thin out extensive woodlands that may make your homesite in the country an expensive proposition.
Once these questions have been answered and you find what you are looking for, we at Cogdill Builders will be happy to offer land consulation services at NO COST TO YOU.  We will meet with you on your land and help you determine what site improvements are needed.  This way, you will be able to avoid most of the costly suprises other builders overlook.  After all, who better to advise you on where to build your dream home than the builders who wrote the bookContact us today and let us arrange a free land consulation appointment with you.


What should I know about termites and other bugs?

Here in the Southeast, bugs are an everyday fact of life.  And termites or wood destroying organisms (WDOs) are sone of the most dangerous bugs we have.  Termites burrow underground in constant search for dead wood to eat. If they come across your home’s foundation during their search for wood, they will follow any cracks in the foundation looking for a passage into your home.  In addition to foundation cracks, they can also enter through:

-           any spaces where underground plumbing pipes penetrate the building slab
-           places where exterior wood on you home contacts soil
-           mud tunnels constructed on the exterior foundation wall connecting the
            ground with the home’s above slab wood frame
-           any firewood which may be stacked against you home

A termite colony of 250,000 termites can eat over 20 feet of 2x4 lumber per year. Signs that termites are sharing you home with you include:

            -           sudden appearance of winged termites
            -           piles of termite wings
            -           existence of mud tunnels indicated above
            -           finding an actual termite (chances are he is not alone)
In order to avoid creating an environment conducive to termites, you should:

  • keep shrubbery trimmed away from house (don’t let bushes touch the home)
  • store firewood away from building
  • keep watch for bubbling paint or mud tunnels
  • keep gutters and downsoputs clean and un-clogged
  • fix faulty or leaky plumbing

At Cogdill Builders, we offer a variety of termite controlling products designed to keep your family’s greatest investment safe from harm.  These include:

Boracare is a borate-based termiticide, insecticide, and fungicide concentrate applied directly to the wood framing before the walls are covered with gypsum board.  Boracare penetrates the wood in your home on contact and renders the wood inedible to termites.   To read more about Boracare and the other termite controlling products available in a Cogdill home, visit the links section of our website.

Termidor and Premise are products made by different manufacturers that work in the same way.  They are both a non-repellent termite system which creates a zone of protection between the soil under your home and the home itself. This treated zone is created by spraying a liquid solution under your home before pouring the concrete slab. Upon attempting to enter your home, termites eat or contact the poison and then die after spreading it to other termites. Read more about Termidor and Premise and the other termite controlling products available in a Cogdill home by visiting the links section of our website.

The Sentricon System uses a termite bait that is placed around the outside of your home in areas where termites are or may be active. Termites feed on the bait and share it with other termites until the colony dies. The Sentricon System requires no drilling in floors or foundations, no digging or trenching and no gallons of chemical solution injected in the soil.  Read more about Sentricon and the other termite controlling products available in a Cogdill home by visiting the links section of our website.

While termites and other wood destroying organisms (WDOs) are definitely a concern, here in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia we also fall prey to many other less dangerous but no less annoying bugs.  At Cogdill Builders, we can include with your custom home systems such as the patented Taexx brand Tubes-in-the-wall system to help target household pests. The system is a network of small, perforated distribution lines that is installed in designated walls during home construction and linked to service ports on the exterior. Through these service ports, technicians inject pest control materials into the lines, distributing them evenly within the wall voids. For complete protection, the technician will also treat the exterior perimeter of your home, including windows, doors, eaves and other entry points for household pests.
Advantages of this system include:

  • Maximizes the effectiveness of pest control materials.
  • Minimizes exposure to you and your family.
  • Avoids stains and messy clean-ups.
  • Eliminates the need to move furniture and empty cabinets.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: the pest technician services the system from outside your home meaning you do not have to be home at the time of service!!!

To learn more about this system and how it can be included in your new custom home, click on the links section of our website.

What types of foundation systems are available for my home?

Here in Florida and South Georgia, the types of soil that exist on a homesite can vary as much as the weather.  From sandy dunes on the beach to expansive red clay in the marshes, varying soils require varying foundation types.  The types we use include:

Monolithic slabs
Monolithic foundations are typically prepared so that the perimeter footers (which will hold up the building) and the floor slab (which does not hold up the building) are formed and poured with concrete at the same time.  The floor slab usually consists of 4 inch thick concrete while the perimeter footers are much thicker to hold the weight of the structure.  

The advantages of monolithic slabs include:

  • faster overall construction time since the footers and floor slab are poured at the same time
  • lower overall foundation cost  due to less labor required

The disadvantages of monolithic slabs include:

  • They cannot be used where you have a lot of fill dirt under the home (such as homesites where a lot of holes have been filled) because the concrete will tend to crack
  • Also they cannot be used on sloping homesites because they will require a lot of excess concrete and become more expensive to use than other alternatives

Stemwall Foundations
Unlike monolithic foundations which are constructed in one step, stemwall foundations are constructed in three components:

  • A footing dug into the ground on the perimeter of the home that holds up the home
  • A concrete block foundation wall built on top of the footings and,
  • A concrete slab poured inside the block foundation wall that forms the floor of the home, and a poured slab.  

The advantages of stemwall foundation systems include:

  • Less fill dirt is required for hilly or sloping homesites.  The foundation wall can be built at different heights around the home thereby saving money on building materials  
  • The floor of the home can be built higher off the ground than a monolithic slab, making your home look taller and improving curb appeal.
  • The fill dirt inside the home slab can be compacted easier than a monolithic slab, reducing the chances of your home having settlement issues.

The only real disadvantages of a stemwall foundation system are:

  • It costs more to build with a stemwall foundation than a comparable monolithic system
  • It takes more time to build with a stemwall versus a monolithic system due to the fact that the stemwall requires a 3 step process and the monolithic is a single step system

Post-tensioning Foundations
Post-tensioning foundations can basically be thought of as a monolithic foundation on steroids.  Just as with monolithic systems, post-tensioning foundations are formed so that the perimeter footers (which will hold up the building) and the floor slab (which does not hold up the building) are formed and poured with concrete at the same time.  However, the difference is that these foundations are used where soil conditions are not what they should be.  In order to make up for bad soil, steel cables are inserted in the slab before the concrete is poured.  Then concrete is poured and a machine is hooked up to the cables and pulls or tensions the cables to strengthen the concrete and help prevent the concrete from cracking. 

The advantages of post-tensioning slabs include:

  • Steel cables in the slab hold the concrete together and help prevent cracking in bad soils
  • Faster construction time than a comparable stem wall foundation slab since the footers and floor slab are poured at the same time

The disadvantages of post-tensioning slabs include:

  • They do not work well on sloping homesites because they will require a lot of excess concrete and become more expensive to use than other alternatives such as stem wall foundations
  • They are more expensive than monolithic foundations due to the addition of the steel cabling system

I'm worried about hurricanes.  Do solid concrete walls really provide superior hurricane protection?

Yes they do.  The use of concrete walls in home construction has been popular for years in states like Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma where a constant threat of tornadoes exists. With the recent rash of hurricanes in Florida, the substantial advantages of concrete walls for home construction have become clear:
1. Concrete walled homes are Stronger and substantially more resistant to high winds than any other wall system.
Studies performed at the Wind Engineering Research Center, Texas Tech University, showed that a solid concrete wall was able to withstand flying debris from a 250 MPH hurricane force wind.  The same could not be said for other more conventional wall systems such as wood siding, concrete block, or brick. 
2.  Concrete is Fire Resistant:
Solid concrete walls resist fires better than wood, or steel, and provide a more durable fire barrier than concrete block.  Concrete walls provide added safety and protection for your family and your possessions in the event of a fire.
3.  Concrete Provides Better Protection Against Termites and other pests
Termites thrive in hot, humid climates such as here in Florida and South Georgia.  Termites and other wood destroying organisms (WDOs) such as carpenter ants will not find your concrete home nearly as appetizing as your neighbor’s wood frame home.
4.  Solid Concrete Keeps The Noise Out:
Because they are thicker and denser than other types of walls, concrete walls help keep outside noise out.  With less outside distractions, you’ll get a better night sleep and enjoy more peace and quiet during the day.
5.  Concrete is a “Green” product:
Made of natural & recycled ingredients, concrete helps conserve natural resources such as trees by replacing them with more readily available substances.  In addition, concrete forms that are used to hold the concrete while it is drying are re-used thousands of times during their life span.  This reuse helps reduce the amount of scrap lumber and debris left in our landfills.
6.  Solid Concrete Walls Add Value To Your Home:
If and when you decide to sell, solid concrete construction increases your home’s re-sale value.  Like you, a future homebuyer will see the advantages of concrete wall construction and be willing to pay more for the security and peace of mind it will provide for decades to come.

I have a family member who is elderly or has a disability.  Can you design features into my custom home to help make their lives easier?

Many of our former clients have been in a similar situation where they required special design features.  With the help of our in-house design staff, we can incorporate those little touches that can tailor your home to you and your family’s special needs.
Design features we have available for our special needs clients include:

  • One story Living

Anyone who has ever tried to get upstairs to their bedroom when they had a broken foot will tell you that it is no easy task.  So when stairs become the enemy, it is time to make sure the vital living areas of the home (kitchen, baths, and bedrooms) are on the ground floor so you can live without having to rely on hard-to-transverse stairways.

  • Wider doorways and hallways

Wheelchairs and walkers require space.  To use these items comfortably, it is important to have doorways and hallways wide enough so that a wheelchair can pass through safely.

  • Wheelchair ramps for entry doors

Handicap ramps and entryways with no steps are crucial for easy wheelchair access to your home.  And with a little planning at the design stage, these features can be incorporated easily.

  • Handicap showers

Showers designed for wheelchair access are also popular and smart for those with special needs.  These showers are recessed or sunken into the slab and the concrete slab is sloped so that the wheelchair can enter the shower with a ramp instead of a step.  Wheelchair features such as these are especially nice for those caring for an elderly parent and needing a mother-in-law suite.

  • Blocking in bathroom walls

Grab bars or hand rails are always handy in bath and shower areas to provide extra stability and prevent accidents from occurring.  Before the walls get covered with gypsum board, have us install wood blocking so that handrails can be easily installed in vital areas of the home. 

  • Lever door handles and rocker electrical switches

For homeowners with poor hand strength, lever door handles and rocker style electrical switches allow for greater comfort and ease of operation while also looking upscale.

  • Good Lighting

Bright lighting in walk-in closets, bathrooms, and closets are critical to preventing accidents.  Also, bright open areas are typically more cheerful and uplifting than dark, cramped spaces.

  • Raised/wheelchair accessible bathroom vanity countertops

Raised vanity countertops prevent stooping and bending over unnecessarily, helping to prevent back injuries and possible slips and falls. Open faced wheelchair accessible vanities make living with a disability easier by allowing those with wheelchairs to access the sink and countertop without leaving their seat.

  • Mother-in-law/Father-in-law suites

Loss of independence can be difficult both for those older family members who are having to face hard choices in their lives and for those who love them. Children faced with the task of raising their own children and caring for the parents who raised them sometimes need a little help. Our in house design team has helped many clients by designing special suites complete with: serparate handicap bathrooms, entry and exit doors, and even secondary kitchens and living rooms to give the elderly back their independence. The importance of a quality life does not diminish during the twilight years. It is our pleasure to ensure that this fact is not forgotten when your new home is designed with your needs in mind.

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